Madeline’s Adventures: Lessons learned – My mom is my greatest teacher in being a mom

May, 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Madeline-2015By Madeline Lau Marin-Foucher

There are many times in life when people will annoyingly tell you, “you won’t understand until you’ve been through it yourself” but motherhood is one heck of a great example.

When you are a child, you have no idea the fortitude, love, endurance and selflessness your mother exhibits every day, and there’s just no way to appreciate it until one day you are the one talking your toddler out of playing with the kitchen knives.

It’s that simple, and it’s a terrible struggle in empathy to not understand someone’s journey until you’ve walked it yourself, but at least in hindsight, children of loving parents who have gone on to have children themselves can take the time to thank those who raised them.

This is for my mother.

Thank you for exposing us to culture from a young age: playing the Beatles and Rolling Stones instead of whatever passing ‘90s trend pop was big in my childhood, making sure I knew all of the classics. I am a Bob Dylan fan because of you, and a Deadhead because of my dad. I can’t thank you both enough!

Thank you for saving up to take us to Europe to see Paris and meet our French family, instead of doing some kind of home remodeling project.

You always said your priority for us was travel and culture, and you proved it.

Etiquette, literature – learning about these things helped me hold my own at dinners with CEOs and academics.

Every city we visited growing up, we made sure to find the art museum and sample some of the great restaurants, and when, upon returning from France, we hadn’t been able to have lunch at the Ritz like you’d hoped, you took us to the Ritz Diner on Lancaster in Salem, and the experience was just as good as any Parisian café.

On that note, thank you for your keen understanding of irony, cliché, onomatopoeia, rebuses, and countless other iterations of language that few people understand, and even fewer master.

Thanks for your incredible vocabulary, for saying things like “contribute to the party atmosphere” to a two year old, then (ironically!) being notorious for sneaking out the back-door of pretty much any social function you’re invited to.

Thanks for having high expectations for your kids in pretty much any category (minus sports, thank God).

It just wasn’t an option for us to give up on things, and it was assumed that we would do at least as well as our siblings on any given subject or activity, which was generally pretty stiff competition.

You assumed that we would be among the top at the things we were good at, and hang in there with our weaker areas.

Thanks for never really giving us a choice to pursue higher education; though I now think there are definitely times when it’s appropriate not to go to college, for our situation and our interests, you knew a four-year degree would be a strong asset.

I’m grateful that you allowed me the freedom to grow up and develop on my own. From spending countless solitary hours playing Barbies in the living room closet, to pursuing my fledgling music career as a teenager (not to mention dating a local bad boy – swoon!) you were content to observe me become the person I was supposed to be, with your love and guidance as support.

As a parent myself, I can’t help but notice so many kids be smothered by their mom or dad’s attention and focus – I sometimes wonder who the kid would be on their own, but you let me be me.

Your own background as an urban tumbleweed always made you such an interesting contrast to our small town life: your interest in fashion, for one, was a huge influence on me, and helped instill a strong sense of personal style and creative expression that sticks with me today.

I remember when my husband and I were living in Chicago you came to visit often and seemed so at home in the city; I asked you about it and you told me that the city was where you most felt like yourself. After knowing you for 23 years of my life living in Stayton that revelation came as a total shock, but the thing is, you manage to fit in wherever you go.

Thank you for being a survivor and not a victim. Hard things happened in your life but you never, ever let them define you, and I admire that so much about you I get teary eyed even thinking about it. You are the definition of perseverance and proof that a person’s happiness is in his or her own hands.

All of us kids are happy that you and our wackadoodle father have maintained your loving, if not offbeat, relationship for close to 40 years. An odder couple I’m sure exists, though I’ve yet to meet them, but your two combined personalities made for many hilarious memories in the Lau house, and bred a gaggle of equally offbeat and interesting kids. I wouldn’t change my family for anything, and that closeness is another wonderful byproduct of my upbringing, thanks to you.

As parents we try to do our best, and we try to do what we think is best; parenting fads come and go, and what was totally acceptable one day becomes hazardous the next. The one thing that never changes, will never change, is the love that comes from a devoted, hardworking mom or dad, tirelessly striving to raise good, kind, productive members of society. Your kids are grateful for you, and if they haven’t told you yet, just wait until they’re parents themselves. You might just get a newspaper column dedicated to you.

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